Grand Uno

Grand Uno is a game to be played with Uno cards, which are available in most toy and game stores. Grand Uno was created by members of Digital Equipment Corporation's RSX Development Group.

You may find the many rules confusing at first, but we found that new players picked them up quickly and were usually comfortable after a session or two of play. You should be familiar with the regular Uno rules before trying Grand Uno.


To play Grand Uno, you need a deck of Uno cards, a salt shaker and a pepper shaker (or other tokens), and pen and paper for scoring.


A draw pile is a set of face-down cards from which a player may take a card whenever they must draw. These are usually the cards left over from the deal but are also replenished when used up by turning over and shuffling most of the cards in the discard piles.

A discard pile is a set of face-up cards to which cards are played.

The active player is the player whose turn it is to play a card. On a turn, a player may place one or more cards on a discard pile according to the rules. If a player cannot or does not do that, they must instead draw one card. After drawing a card, the player may place that card, alone or with others, on a discard pile, if such play conforms to the rules governing the play of cards on discard piles.

Wild cards are only the cards marked Wild; this term does not include Wild Draw Four cards.

Set Up

Deal: Put the salt shaker in the middle of the table (no player owns it as the game begins) and the pepper shaker in front of the dealer. Deal each player seven cards, as in regular Uno. Split the deck into two halves and put them face-down in the center of the table. These form the draw piles. (All draws may be taken from either draw pile, so having two draw piles has no effect on the play of the game. However, this is a pleasing arrangement given the other rule changes.)

First Discard Pile: The dealer takes a card from a draw pile and places it face-up, forming the first discard pile. Action now occurs as if the dealer were the active player and had played this card. For example, if the card is a Draw Two, the player to the dealer's left must draw two cards and the succeeding player becomes the active player.

First Play and Second Pile: The active player takes their turn. Then the dealer turns a second card face-up to start a second discard pile. Again, action now occurs as if the dealer were the active player (except that the active player does not actually change unless the turned-up card directs it). From this point on, each player may play to either discard pile.

Basic Rules

Grand Uno begins with the regular Uno rules, which govern turn order, scoring, and so on. Those rules are in effect except as amended herein.

Use Either Discard Pile: In general, a player may play to either discard pile which they can match in either color, number, or word phrase. (Exception: See rule about Wild Draw Four cards below.)

Having two discard piles adds some strategy. When one player has Uno, the other players should try to make both discard piles the same color, to reduce the opportunities offered to the leading player. Having two piles also adds a bit of persistence to one's actions, making it harder for the other players to cover up one's changes. For example, a player might play a Wild card, call it red, and find the pile still red when their turn comes around again, when in the ordinary Uno game the pile might well have been changed. This persistence is also useful with our other rules, where cards of the same type have a cumulative effect.

Permitted Plays: In addition to matching cards by phrase, color, or number, a number card can be matched by a set of number cards all of one color which add up to the number on the discard pile. For example, a player may play a blue Zero, a blue Three, and a blue Six on top of a red Nine on a discard pile. The order of the cards is significant; any special actions of the cards are taken in the order the cards are placed on the discard pile, from bottom up. Each card takes effect in turn, as if it had been played singly, until all cards are accounted for. Cumulative effects occur multiple times, as each card lends its own effect and then accumulates with the cards above it. Consequential actions affect only one card at a time.

For example, suppose a pair of One cards had been played, and the active player indicated a single player to draw both the first card for the first One and the next two cards for the second One. That other player could use a Wild card to cancel either the first draw of one card or the second draw of two cards, but not both.

Wild cards may be played on any turn. Wild Draw Four cards may be played only if the player does not have a card in their hand whose color matches the color of the top card of either discard pile.

Drawing: When a player is required to draw a card, they may draw from either draw pile. This applies only to draws and not to times when a player must take a card from another player. In addition, when a player is required to draw because of a Draw Two or Wild Draw Four, the player may draw from the top of the discard pile which does not contain the card forcing them to draw. No examination of cards underneath the top card is permitted until the player has decided to draw the top card. Cards may be drawn in any order and quantity from the discard pile and either draw pile, as the player desires, and the player may examine the drawn cards before deciding from where to draw the next card.

Only Draw Two and Wild Draw Four cards cause the succeeding player to draw and lose their turn. Zero and One cards force draws but do not alter the progression of play.

Exhausting a Discard Pile: The drawing player may take the last card in a discard pile. If the player has not drawn the required number of cards, they continue drawing from a draw pile. When drawing is completed, the player turns over a card from a draw pile to reform the depleted discard pile. Action now occurs as if the drawing player had played this card as the active player.

Game End, Going Out: The game ends when a turn has ended and one or more players have no cards. A turn does not end until all consequential action has ceased, including draw cards, penalties, passing Sevens and Nines, and backfiring draws.

The player who goes out in the first game is required to keep score for succeeding games of the set. The player with the pepper shaker is the dealer for the next game.

Declaring Uno: A player who reaches Uno (possession of a single card) is required to call Uno before removing their hand from their penultimate card. If a player should fail to declare Uno, any other player may challenge them until such time as the player actually declares Uno, goes out, or gains another card. The player who is so caught must draw two cards.

It is possible for a player to reach Uno (possession of a single card) through the action of another player using a Four to take a card. This is called discovered Uno. The player is still required to declare Uno, but it may be done without challenge anytime before the current play is completed and the next player touches a card to the discard pile or touches a draw pile. In addition, the penalty for failure to declare a discovered Uno is only one card.


Many cards have a cumulative effect. When a card is placed on a discard pile immediately on top of one or more cards with the same number or phrase, the effects of all the cards add up.

For Draw Two and Wild Draw Four cards, the number of cards to be drawn is added up and the player to whom the draw card was played must draw that number of cards. For example, if a Draw Two card is played on a Wild Draw Four card, the next player is required to draw six cards.

When multiple Skip cards are played, additional players are skipped. For example, when a Skip is played, one player is skipped. When another player places a second Skip on the first Skip, two players are skipped at that time. If a third Skip is played in a four-player game, all three other players are skipped and the active player gets an extra turn.

The accumulation effects of other cards are discussed below with the special rules for those cards.

Interruptions to Normal Play

Wild Cards Backfire: When a player is forced to draw for any reason, including Draw Two or Wild Draw Four cards, Zero or One cards, or failure to call Uno, that player may place a Wild card on a discard pile (the same pile as the card that required the draw, if any, or either pile in the case of failure to call Uno). This not only cancels their requirement to draw but requires the player who caused the draw to draw the cards instead. That player in turn may play a Wild card to reverse the draw once again, and this may continue until each player has used all their Wild cards. If the original card was a Draw Two or Wild Draw Four card, the drawing player may draw from either the draw piles or the discard pile opposite from the one onto which the Draw Two or Wild Draw Four was played.

Note that a Wild card backfires the drawing of all cards required by the play of a single card. Suppose the active player had played a fourth One card and were naming players to draw cards, as described below. If the active player named another player to draw a card twice, that player could play a single Wild card to backfire both draws. On the other hand, if two red One cards had been played in a single play (because they added up to two or more to match the number of the card previously on the discard pile), the draws permitted by those One cards are separate, and a Wild card only cancels the effect of one of those One cards.

Calling Color of Wild Cards: If a player plays a Wild card, in normal play or in the process of backfiring a draw, they should call the color of the Wild card before removing their hand from the card. If a player removes their hand before specifying the color, any player may call the color; the first color called becomes the color of the Wild card.

Recovering a Reverse: When a Reverse card is played, the player who would otherwise have been the next active playe may place a Reverse card of their own on the played Reverse card. This cancels the Reverse and recovers the play. The recovering player is then the active player and takes their turn normally. Play proceeds in the same direction as if neither Reverse had been played.

Pot of Gold at End of Rainbow: When a player collects four cards of the same phrase or number, one of each color, they may distribute the cards to at least two other players in any way. All four of the cards must be given away, and this must be done (or forfeited) as soon as the player receives the card that completes the set of four, interrupting any other game play. One Wild card may be used in place of a missing card in an incomplete set, and it also must be given away.

Run For It: When a player collects a straight run of cards of a single color, the run being equal in length to the number of players, the player may immediately distribute all of those cards to two or more other players. This must be done immediately or not at all. Wild cards may be used as in Rainbows.

Rules For Specific Cards

Seven, Eight, Nine, Do-se-do

When a player draws or is dealt a Seven, Eight, or Nine card, it is placed face-up on the table. However, Sevens are passed face-up to the player on the left, Eights go face-up in front of the player, and Nines are passed face-up to the player on the right. These cards remain face-up in front of the player who receives them and are a normal part of that player's hand. They may be played on that player's turn and must be played (or otherwise removed from the player's hand) in order for the player to go out.


The player of an Eight receives the salt shaker (taking it from the previous owner, if any). The player with the salt shaker at the end of the game is entitled to remove any two cards from their score.

Adults Only

When a Six is played directly on a Nine or vice-versa, the two players who played the cards switch seats, taking the cards they hold with them. Cards face-up on the table remain with the seat, and play continues to follow the seats around the table, not the players. The score sheet also remains with the seat; the player keeping score has an opportunity to escape the task in this manner. However, players may take food or other personal property with them to their new seat.

If one player played both the Six and Nine, there is no swap. In the austere version of the game, that player is required to walk around the table once.

Philanthropy Rule

When a player plays a Five, they must name another player who must then give one card in their hand to another player, including possibly the active player. It is common for the active player to suggest to the donor who is to receive the card or even to negotiate, but this is not compulsory on the donor. The donor must deliver the card to the designated recipient face down, with the exception of Seven, Eight and Nine cards which are normally played face up. If the card should be intentionally or accidentally turned face up or in any way revealed to the other players while in transit from the donor to the recipient, the recipient may, at his or her discretion, refuse to accept the card. The face up card shall be left on the table in full view of all players and a replacement card shall be delivered to the recipient. The face up card shall be returned to the donor's hand. The only exception to this is when the donor is going out as a result of passing his or her card.

Five cards have a cumulative effect: When a Five is played directly on a Five, the player may name a person to give away a card, wait until that is done, and name another or the same person to give away another card, and this continues for each adjacent Five at the top of the discard pile.

That's Four Me

When a Four is played, the active player must take a card from the hand of a player of their choice. This card can be one of the face-up cards or a card actually held by the player. The other players may shuffle their cards first or may reveal their cards to the active player, in an attempt to solicit the taking of their cards.

Fours also have a cumulative effect: The active player is required to take two or more cards, corresponding to the number of adjacent Fours. The cards may be taken from one player or selection of players.

Three's a Crowd

When a Three is played, all other players may give their Threes to the active player. All cards shall be delivered to the active player face down. Should a card be revealed either accidentally or intentionally, it shall remain in the hand of the donor.

Go Two Cards

Two rules are possible for Two cards. With exactly four players, each player can be associated with a color before the game begins. When a Two is played, play of the game advances to the player corresponding to the color of the Two, who is then the active player.

With any number of players, the pepper shaker can be employed to designate a player. The pepper shaker is initially with the dealer. When a Two is played, play of the game advances to the player with the pepper shaker. But the pepper shaker is moved to the player who played the Two. At the end of the game, the player with the pepper shaker must deal for the next game.

Also, when multiple cards are played in a single discard and a Two card is included, all cards above the Two have effects as if the associated player had discarded those cards as the active player. Cards below the Two are not affected and are the responsibility of the actual active player.

This One's For You

When a One is played, the active player must name another player who is then required to draw a card.

One cards have a cumulative effect: When two or more One cards are adjacent, the active player names one player for each One card. Any distribution is permitted, and players may be named repeatedly.

Zeroes Go All Around

When a Zero card is played to a discard pile, every player other than the active player must draw a card.

Zeroes have a cumulative effect: When two or more Zero cards are adjacent, the players must draw one card for each Zero card.

Summary of Rules

Card Description
Draw Two Drawing Player may use draw piles or opposite discard pile. Drawing player loses turn.
Reverse Player whose turn it would have been may play second Reverse card and then take their turn.
Skip One player is skipped for each adjacent Skip.
Wild May be played as a normal turn or to backfire a draw.
Wild Draw Four May be played only if a player cannot match color. Drawing player may use draw piles or opposite discard pile. Drawing player loses turn.
Zero All other players draw a card.
One Active player indicates another player who must draw a card.
Two Play goes to player determined by color of card or to player with marker (and marker moves to player of the Two).
Three All players may give their Threes to active player.
Four Active player must take a card from another player.
Five Active player indicates another player who must give away a card.
Six When player on a Nine, player who played Six switches seats with player who played Nine.
Seven Passed face-up to player on left.
Eight Placed face-up in front of player. Receives marker for two-card score discount.
Nine Passed face-up to player on right. When played on a Six, player who played Nine switches seats with player who played Six.
Rainbow When a player collects a card of each color of a single number or word phrase, they may immediately distribute all of those cards to other players. One Wild card may be substituted.
Run When a player collects a straight run of cards of a single color, the run being equal in length to the number of players, the player may immediately distribute all of those cards to other players.